Sufferers would generally be stunned when Gerald Proctor would introduce himself as their dental hygienist.
Wait, a male dental hygienist?
Proctor is a rarity on P.E.I. In response to the Dental Hygienist Affiliation of P.EI., of roughly 120 registered hygienists on the Island, solely three are males.
It is not one thing persons are acquainted with seeing. Some have mistaken him for a dentist, Proctor mentioned.
“They’re nonetheless a little bit bit, I suppose confused can be the phrase,” he mentioned. “They don’t seem to be delay by it, however they’re similar to, OK properly that is completely different, you realize, and completely different’s high-quality.”
With a scarcity of dental hygienists, in addition to dental assistants, some are questioning if “completely different” — attracting extra males and others to the sector — would assist alleviate the months-long waits to get in for only a tooth cleansing.
Monica Simpson, president of the affiliation, mentioned the demand for oral hygiene providers has elevated because the inhabitants grows, authorities dental care applications broaden the affected person base, and dental places of work get caught up from the backlog created in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She mentioned it would not be troublesome for a dental hygienist to seek out work on P.E.I. Most pay between $36 and $40 an hour.
Two faculties in Maritimes
“Definitely, if we might encourage extra males to take the career, that will be an amazing thought,” she mentioned.
“It is a female-dominated career and infrequently occasions when you may have a younger mom, they might select to work half time to make it simpler for issues at residence. After which additionally with an 18-month maternity depart choice, it means that you’ve got an extended span that you simply’re making an attempt to refill that place and there is a number of maternity leaves that have not been capable of be crammed in order that leaves folks brief, as properly.”
The hours had been one of many perks that attracted Proctor to the sector. He was a truck driver for a few years, however when he acquired laid off greater than a decade in the past, he took a profession growth course that led him to well being care.
However he was beginning a household, and the weekends and shift work prevalent in hospital work was not interesting to him. Dental hygiene, nevertheless, was one thing he might sink his tooth into.
“So I am being sincere with my profession growth officer. I mentioned, you realize, I do not need to sound snobbish, however I do not need that for myself at this level in my life. I would like like a Monday-to-Friday-type job.”
Dr. Brian Barrett, government director of the Dental Affiliation of P.E.I., mentioned there’s a scarcity of skilled staff in all health-care fields, and dental hygiene isn’t any exception, however there is no such thing as a easy resolution.
“The one method is to coach an amazing many extra and as it could’t be completed in a short time, the issue shall be right here for a number of years. The common age can also be rising so extra are additionally retiring so no quick repair goes to happen.”
We hear that fairly often, ‘I could not do what you do.’ And I believe there’s a number of jobs I could not try this different folks do.— Monica Simpson
There are two locations within the Maritimes that provide dental hygiene coaching — Dalhousie College in RisePEI and Oulton School in Moncton.
Proctor graduated from Oulton 10 years in the past and was employed by Peter Bevan-Baker, a dentist who’s now the chief of the P.E.I. Inexperienced Celebration, on the Hampton Dental Clinic.
He is been there ever since, loves it and would suggest it to different males. He mentioned early on there might have been a stigma connected to it as a “female-dominant” career, very similar to nursing, however he mentioned that is now not the case.
“There’s generally the place I believe that individuals generally let their guard down as a result of I’m a male. We do loads of issues like well being histories and questions and issues like that. So there’s occasions the place I am certain that feminine sufferers are extra snug with a feminine hygienist, however then there’s additionally occasions the place there’s male sufferers which are most likely extra snug with a male hygienist.”
The “nurturing” facet is probably going why dental hygiene has historically attracted extra girls, Simpson mentioned.
Plus, let’s face it, not everybody has the abdomen to scrape plaque off another person’s tooth.
“We hear that fairly often, ‘I could not do what you do.’ And I believe there’s a number of jobs I could not try this different folks do,” she mentioned.
“If persons are nervous coming to the dentist you must be caring and nurturing and affected person. It is not for everyone nevertheless it’s an amazing job in some methods for certain.”
Males will be simply as nurturing, Proctor mentioned, and and digging round in somebody’s mouth shouldn’t be a problem for him. He discovered throughout his coaching, by way of an outreach program the place he would work on folks whose circumstances prevented them from seeing a dentist commonly, that serving to to enhance a affected person’s well being is among the rewards of being a dental hygienist.
“It was wonderful to have these experiences early and notice you can also make a distinction in somebody’s well being, in somebody’s life, as a result of we do not notice how essential it’s to go to a job interview and provides a vibrant, assured smile.”